Andrew Cotton

Andrew Cotton (UK) with a last minute XXL entry from a recent session in Ireland. Photo: David Olsthoorn

Last Minute XXL Entry From Ireland

NEWPORT BEACH, CA – (March 12, 2012) – As the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards presented by Monster Energy head into the final week of the year-long event period, a massive swell hitting Europe has produced new entries from Ireland which could affect the outcome of the event.

The huge swell which blasted Europe last week was especially focused on Ireland, with Mullaghmore Head in County Sligo producing the biggest waves ever seen along the Emerald Isle. Andrew Cotton, 32, from Croyde, Devon, United Kingdom was awaiting the monster surf on March 8 along with his Irish tow surfing partner Al Mennie.

"We’d been tracking that swell for about a week," said Cotton. "All these swells that hit Ireland can be hit and miss with wind and this one couldn’t make its mind up. I’ve spent so many swells on that headland with the wind howling but not quite in the right direction and I honestly thought that this was going to be another swell like that. Al Mennie and myself camped out at Mullaghmore the night before and couldn’t believe our luck at first light the next day.

"It had been a fairly disappointing winter compared to the previous year and it was far from perfect that day," continued Cotton. "After watching for about 30 minutes and deciding to pick a few off, Al towed me into an absolute bomb. It was my first wave of the day. It felt like a reminder of how good it can get there and why I put the time and effort in."

Images from the Mullaghmore session have been quickly entered into the XXL Biggest Wave competition and join a multitude of epic photos and video from around the world this last year from places like Teahupoo in Tahiti, Jaws in Hawaii, Maverick's in California and Shipstern Bluff in Australia's Tasmania. As the swell passed Ireland it filled into the Bay of Biscay, producing big waves in Portugal, Spain and France. New entries from those locations are expected in the coming days. All the entries to date may be viewed on the event website at

The 2012 Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards qualifying period runs through the end of the Northern Hemisphere winter on March 19, 2012, with an elaborate awards ceremony to be held at the Grove Theater in Anaheim, California on May 4. Unlike conventional surfing competitions which wait in one location until the waves come to them, the 12th annual Billabong XXL Awards has the unique advantage of a window which runs all year long and is open to all the world's best surfers at all the world's best big waves — whenever and wherever they come in – as long as they are caught with photos or video.

Nominees will be announced during the last week of March, only after all the last-minute entries have been fully assessed. This is the second year in a row where a huge late-season swell produced legitimate XXL contenders in the final week. Last year the event was startled by a wild day at Jaws on Maui where Shane Dorian paddled into a 57-foot wave that earned the Monster Paddle crown.

The 2012 Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards feature an array of categories including the $50,000 Ride of the Year, Monster Paddle, Monster Tube and the Verizon Wireless Wipeout of the Year. There are also "world champ" awards for the Surfline Best Overall Performance (male) and the Billabong Girls Best Performance (female). The event features over $130,000 in cash prizes for the surfers and photographers.

The Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards are fueled by Monster Energy. Verizon Wireless is the official communications provider and is the exclusive surf forecast of the XXL. Sony is the official electronics supporter and Contour the exclusive provider of point of view cameras. The event is sponsored by Air Tahiti Nui airlines.